The Truth About Santa
Tue Dec 16 2008
Photograph: Colin D. Young
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>2/5
Outside of a production of A Christmas Carol, no one wants to be a scrooge this time of year, but it's hard to get jolly over the silly and strident The Truth About Santa. Despite a solid pedigree, this satirical play by Urinetown librettist-lyricist Greg Kotis, has only occasional trenchant moments that are largely outweighed by inane ones.
Kotis's premise is to pile a passel of vices onto cherished holiday icons, but he settles for the random and obvious. So the elves (Clay Adams, Jeff Gurner) enjoy polygamy while Santa (Bill Coelius) is an insult-hurling, weed-smoking adulterer who has fathered kids with a mistress, and Mrs. Claus (Lusia Strus)—a combination of Medea and every fairy-tale witch—gleefully plots to kill them. Two children (India and Milo Kotis) are portrayed by the real-life offspring of Kotis and his wife (Ayun Halliday), who in turn play the kids' miserably married parents. In between amusing elf-sung ditties, a convoluted plot zips the family to the north pole, where we learn about bad Santa's sins. Are we headed for an apocalypse? Should this whole affair have been limited to an audience of Kotis's family and friends?
It might have been more appealing if the cast didn't spew out its lines at such a rapid-fire pace. Director John Clancy works everybody into a whirlwind of shouting, jumping and flailing when a gentler approach might have yielded more laughs. Ho ho ho? Try no no no.—Diane Snyder